“Lord, did we come here for nothing?” I prayed. “Is it really your plan that we leave?”
My wife, Sylvia, and I had moved to the Middle East two months ago so that I could participate in the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Total Employment program. I loved the idea of working in a country while sharing Jesus in my everyday life. But I couldn’t find a job, and without one, I couldn’t renew my visa. Time was running out.
Feeling discouraged, I shared my predicament with a friend. “Don’t give up yet,” he urged me. “I’ve just learned about a job opportunity working as a personal secretary for a sheikh. It might be God’s answer for you.” He handed me the contact information and said he’d pray for me.
The idea of me working for a sheikh seemed improbable, but I’d told God many times that I’d take whatever employment He provided. So, I applied for the position and within a short time I was called in for an interview.
I found the sheikh to be a man of few words, but he seemed kind, and I could tell that he was well-educated and well-traveled. To my amazement, he offered me the job, even suggesting that we could negotiate the pay! I promised him that I’d consider his offer overnight and give him an answer in the morning.
That evening I told Sylvia about the offer. “God is answering our prayers!” she said, wrapping her arms around me.
“I hope you’re right,” I responded, “but Sabbath observance has prevented me from being hired so far, and I can’t imagine that a sheikh would schedule his life around my needs.”
Tentmakers can work as entrepreneurs, computer technicians, public relations specialists, graphic designers, engineers, agriculturalists, international development workers, artists, teachers, and healthcare professionals, among other professions.
“If God wants you to have this job, He’ll provide a solution,” she encouraged. I knew she was right, but I held my excitement in check.
“Sir, I would like to accept your offer,” I told the sheikh the next day, “but I observe sundown Friday to sundown Saturday as a holy day, and I can’t work during this time.” I explained my faith to him as simply as I knew how and waited for his response.
“And if I can’t give you Saturdays off?” he inquired without looking at me.
“I’ll have to turn down the job.”
“And return to your home?”
“Yes, sir.” The silence seemed interminable. “Lord,” I prayed, “Your will be done. Only You can make this possible.”
“You can take Saturdays off.”
It took me a moment to register the sheikh’s off-handed response. Then relief flooded through me. My job search was over. Sylvia and I could stay!
At home that night, my wife and I cried together for joy. This really was where God wanted us. He had opened a door just in time.
As I lay in bed, I wondered what God would do through my presence here. I didn’t have long to find out. Within a couple of weeks the sheikh sent an e-mail to his entire staff announcing that I would have every Saturday off, and I became an instant curiosity.
My coworkers began to watch my every move, scrutinizing my conversations, lifestyle, and character. It was an opportunity only God could create.
“What kind of influential person is behind you that the sheikh granted your request?” one colleague asked me.
“God is behind me,” I replied. “I respect my employer, but the Lord is above the sheikh.”
As time went by, the staff began to ask me questions about the Bible and my faith, and eventually they requested that I get them Bibles of their own.
I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll see more clearly how God was able to use this experience to influence my employer and colleagues. I know how it changed me. I’m ready to serve Him with everything I have, wherever He leads. Even when I have to plead my case to the one “above the sheikh.”
Total Employment is an initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to recruit, train and place “tentmakers”—self-supporting professionals with a desire to share Jesus—in restrictive access countries.
The church has an urgent need for tentmakers in the 10/40 Window, an area that stretches from northern Africa through the Middle East and Asia. This is home to two-thirds of the world’s population, most of the world’s least-reached countries and people groups, and the fewest Christians. If you think God may be calling you to this unique mission service, please visit te.adventistmission.org.